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U.S. says drone didn't hit school

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By The Washington Post
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 10:03 p.m.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — American and Pakistani officials sharply disagreed on Thursday about whether an Islamic school was struck by a U.S. drone, in an unusual attack that inflamed tensions over the CIA drone campaign.

According to Pakistani officials, three missiles were fired into a compound in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province about 5 a.m. local time, a rare strike outside the Pakistani tribal areas near the Afghan border that are usually targeted by drones.

Pakistani officials say the drone hit a madrassa, or Islamic seminary, killing six people, including two teachers. The dead included Maulvi Ahmad Jan and Maulvi Hameedullah, who were top surrogates for Sirajuddin Haqqani, the second in command of the Haqqani militant group, which has ties to al-Qaida.

A U.S. official disputed that the strike was aimed at a madrassa. Instead, the official said, the target was a compound associated with the Haqqani network, which is accused of multiple attacks against American forces in Afghanistan.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that a madrassa was in the vicinity but said it was not damaged. U.S. officials have seen no indication of civilian casualties, he said.

Umar Khan Bangash, a local politician who lives in the area, said the missile hit the 15-room seminary. He and other Pakistani officials say the madrassa is frequently used by refugees from Afghanistan and suspected militants.

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